Tarka was born to music. In the first springtime of his life his father Denny Cordell produced the number one record A Whiter Shade of Pale. Small enough to hide under Joe Cocker’s Steinway on the legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, he eavesdropped on the nascent sound of the 1970s. At 11 he learned early guitar licks from JJ Cale and kicked a ball on the beach in Malibu with Bob Marley, while the Wailers jammed on the deck. His passion for producing was inspired as he watched Denny at the mixing decks on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ eponymous debut album.
Later mentoring came by way of Keith Richards, who did all he could to whip Tarka’s raw promise into shape. But Tarka was too easily distracted by pretty girls. This, coupled with his erratic work ethic, made Keith throw up his hands and walk away.
Though Keith may have despaired, his protégé had been paying some attention. Tarka went away and made something of his fortunate heritage and his God-given talent. He produced, he wrote songs, he collaborated, he played live. Then he gave us his first, and last, album. He poured his soul into the songs – his unflinchingly Romantic view of life; his killer belief in the beauty of the human heart; his hurt. He recorded Wide Awake in a Dream at Bearsville Studios outside New York, with the ghosts of the Greats listening on.
But as is sometimes the way, what nourishes us destroys us. The love that Tarka felt – the love that courses through his music – was too much for him to live with. In April 2008 after a sun-soaked day in the garden with his family, he returned to his London flat and took his life.
After Tarka’s death his great friend Alex Elena and brother Barney Cordell had the idea of getting some of Tarka’s friends together to record his music in their own voices. Other artists heard his music along the way and asked to be a part of this magical and unexpected journey.
Evan Dando sings Lovely New York a song written with him in mind.
Pals Citizen Cope, alongside wife and Grammy nominee Alice Smith, mesmerise with Satellites.
Imani Coppola, whose Legend Of A Cowgirl was an MTV smash, and later of Little Jackie, hypnotises with her version of 13 Perfect Days.
Alex Elena teams up with singer Tim Phillips to deliver their heartfelt version of The Sun.
Meanwhile, back home in England, long time friend Lily Allen teams up with childhood buddy Louis Eliot (Kinky Machine, Rialto) to bring us the heartbreakingly pure Shelter You.
Alice Temple (Eg and Alice) closes the record with her haunting rendition of Lullaby.
We picked up a few on the way as well – friends of ours who listened then loved and delivered.
Ruby Friedman displays her frankly unbelievable vocal ability in Life and Home or out of Range.
French beauty Lola Delon brings a tear to the eye with Gold.
Australian Sun Rai (Thirsty Merc) delivers the funky Wide Awake In A Dream.
Last but not least, North London collaborators Scoundrels & Dirty Gentlemen deliver the rocking Girls Keith, the song Tarka dedicated to his mentor.
‘Life’ by Tarka and Friends is a tribute to his music and is available on Room 609 Records on 10th February 2014.
Wide Awake in a Dream is Tarka’s legacy and is due for release in Autumn 2014.